Yahweh's Activity in History and Nature in the Book of Joel

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Focuses on the methodological question: What is the relationship between history and nature in Israelite religion? Challenges the fundamental dichotomy of religion-of-history/religion-of-nature which is ubiquitous in biblical scholarship. Both human history and the history of nature constitute two aspects of the single cosmological reality. This thesis is illustrated and supported through a detailed study of the book of Joel.


". . . provides insights that are worth a book in themselves. . . . provides a vivid example that breakthroughs in biblical interpretation continue to occur where the exegete combines scrupulous attention to linguistic and historico-cultural data with a readiness to shed anachronistic categories. . . . Simkins may have provided the most consistent and satisfying reading of Joel to date." - Dennis Hamm, S.J.

"This book is well-written and well-researched. . . His approach is interdisciplinary. Simkins marshals evidence from entomology, agriculture, environmental science, and cultural anthropology to aid his interpretation of Joel. He provides excellent summaries of the relevant biblical scholarship and good discussions of key motifs, such as 'day of Yahweh' and 'enemy from the north,' which will prove useful beyond the scholarship of Joel. The enduring value of Simkins's work, however, is its helpful deconstruction of the romantic scholarly distinction between the 'historical' religion of Israel and the 'nature' religions of Israel's neighbors. His critique of this interpretive bias will prove ever more significant hermeneutically, as industrial societies struggle to define a more ecologically engaged ethic in a 'post-industrial' world, where human history and the well-being of nature are more obviously intertwined." - Journal of Biblical Literature

"The volume supplies extensive entomological data on Near Eastern locusts and records of locust plagues in the Levant. With this material the author convincingly demonstrates that the four terms for the insect used in Joel cannot conform to four discernible stages of the animal. . . . There are sufficient insights into Joel to make it a volume worth the scholar's time. The sections on Yahweh as god of history and nature as well as the material on locusts make the volume a valuable work for the field." - Journal of Near Eastern Studies

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